Senators met in a rare Saturday session to vote on the measure.
Below, more from HuffPost's Michael McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui:
The Senate failed to take its first new step Saturday to stave off a fiscal disaster: voting to begin work on a bill to raise the nation's debt limit.
Lawmakers voted 53-47 on the bill, falling short of the 60 needed to invoke "cloture" and proceed. The bill would lift the nation's borrowing cap through December 2014. A one-year hike of the debt ceiling is unpopular with congressional Republicans, but Senate Democrats hope to raise the pressure on the GOP as the Oct. 17 deadline looms to avoid default.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned shortly before the vote that if Congress fails to act before the deadline -- when the Treasury secretary warned the United States could run short of cash on hand to pay all its bills -- the nation could suffer an economic calamity.
"It's really too hard to comprehend that four days from today, unless and until a few extremist Republicans -- we hope it's a few -- too radical to compromise, could force a default on the nation's obligations," Reid said on the Senate floor.
Read HuffPost's full report here.
This story has been updated.